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Going To Church

For the first three years of my life there were no churches near enough for me to attend, but as soon as we returned to "civilization" church became a part of every Sunday (or, more recently, Saturday evening).  As i became more independent in my thinking, the churches got more liberal, but my habit of church attendance far outlasted any reasons i had for attending.  At one point i drove 120 miles each Sunday to attend "the Church of my Choice."

By the time i married Dianne, i had long ago "lost my faith" and had almost abandoned the practice of churchgoing.  Dianne was a recent convert to her Faith (she had restrained herself for many years out of deference to her parents).  She was, and has remained, devout.  She feared that, by marrying me, she had cut herself off from certain important religious practices.  In the process of straightening this out we both began attending her church.  We have continued to do this for  forty years.

Like the Spanish poet Machado, i attend church because my fife attends.  I adore her while she is adoring her God.  She wishes that this were not so.  So do i, but i fear it cannot be helped.  Spiritually, i and organized, formal religion seem to be moving in opposite directions.  Perhaps only a theory of curved space can rejoin us.  Though my friends are very tolerant, my antatgonism toward formal relligion annoys some of them; and they are probably rightly annoyed.

Recently Dianne's Church has tried to restore certain language that recaptures its early history.  I see this as an attempt to do some of the progress that the Church has made in the last fifty years.  To me, "peace and goodwill to all" means one thing, "peace to all of goodwill" means something entirely different and i rebel at using or hearing the second formula,  When Exodus 13 is read, i think about drowning horses rather than a miraculous escape from slavery.

My favorite priest always begins the service by asking, i our behalf, that all those things be put aside that might prevent our "receiving benefit from what we do and what we say here.' and i have tried to take this to heart.  But old habits die hard.  Instead pf adoring my beloved as she adores her Beloved, i find myself nitpicking the scripture, the sermon and the rites.

So a couple of months ago i decided to turn over a new leaf.

And its not going too badly.  And the universe is cooperating.  Father J has preached his usual inclusive and compassionate sermons; Deacon P. preached a fine sermon; and the new priest from Mexico, Father Jose has given three fine sermons.  To top it off, my favorite hymn, "I Shall Not Die," has been the closing song twice in the past month.  "Take what you like and leave the rest" is again good advice.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 2nd, 2012 10:51 pm (UTC)
glad things are going well for you!

i need to look up the lyrics to "i shall not die."
Sep. 2nd, 2012 11:07 pm (UTC)
I posted them in my journal on May 15, 2011.
Sep. 2nd, 2012 11:14 pm (UTC)
I went back and read the lyrics in your journal. Quite moving. I wish I could hear an audio version but so far I can't find one on the internet.
Sep. 2nd, 2012 11:02 pm (UTC)
You know, I like you tremendously. :)

Here is something i am wondering, knowing that I am wondering it about a very sophisticated and very religion/faith-sophisticated person. I expect you've thought of it, and I'm not hoping to teach my grandfather to suck eggs.

What I wonder is whether, following the liturgy of your favourite priest, you understand worship as a meeting place for the divine, or for higher consciousness, or for whatever and however you'd approach what I know you are wooing and wanting.

And now, as I am rather slowly writing this, I contemplate the value of having services designated as Liturgical, Mystical, Educational, Practical....
Sep. 2nd, 2012 11:29 pm (UTC)
I had to look up "liturgy" before replying. I notice that the Greek term which gave rise to the Latin meant "public service." hmmm.

Anyway, they try to put a little of everything in worship services, don't they -- a little mea culpa, a little forgiveness, a little praise, a little thanksgiving. a little prayer, a little adoration, a little dread, a little education, and a call to action. I tend to go past the mystical aspects of the Roman Catholic service and i can see that if i focused more on that it would be really beneficial. My Protestant background taught me to take words literally and that gets in the way of "the body and the blood" which could have great mystical significance for Christian and non-Christian.

I took a religious "personality test" once which labeled me as, more than anything else, a hermit.

The preservation of the Sermon on the Mount into the 21st century is, to me, the real Christian miracle, and maybe the church has had to be what it has been in order to accomplish that?
Sep. 3rd, 2012 02:39 am (UTC)
i grew up UCC, though both my parents were raised (one more, one less) Roman Catholic. I was unchurched for about twenty years, and cheerfully agnostic for a fair swipe of that.

The first liturgical and "high" service I attended was at Wells (C of E) Cathedral in 2003. Sheeyun hated it. And I thought, "By gum! The higher the service the more mystical!"

Though of course if it makes one cross, not so much. :D
Sep. 3rd, 2012 04:21 pm (UTC)
Your words are fascinating to contemplate:

"The preservation of the Sermon on the Mount into the 21st century is, to me, the real Christian miracle, and maybe the church has had to be what it has been in order to accomplish that?"

My mother was raised Christian Science, and my father Catholic. He certainly embraced the wider view of Catholicism, which may have included mysticism. For myself, more and more I see it is about compassion, empathy, and love, easy to write, and not always so easy to do.
Sep. 3rd, 2012 01:14 am (UTC)
~Not the proper way to describe me with my religion, but~
...I was tagged, bagged and nagged into Roman Catholicism due to the family influence. There was no other recourse. We were baptized before we can even speak and confirmed into it again before we reach the age of reason. That's how influential Roman Catholicism was in our country. At least in America, confirmation of your faith comes in later years (junior high school at least.).

Although I did not have any qualms and questions about my religion when I was a little younger, for there was almost nil influence from others to coerce, convince, persuade, covert, induce or talk about the benefits of other (religions), college theology made me directly engage myself into questioning, not so much about the stability of my faith, but the procedures and the way the church was run at that time. And then I was back into the fold of the church again via the Blessed Pope John Paul II.
Sep. 3rd, 2012 09:06 pm (UTC)
take what you like and...
yes indeed
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )



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